Name Changes

Advance in Trenton

Milestone

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This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the June 26, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Union Organizer

A trade union office added one person, needed to expand

in space, and moved four blocks. The four-person international area

office of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal

Employees (AFSCME) moved from 1254 Whitehorse-Mercerville Road to

1,924 square feet on Whitehorse Road. Barry Blackwell of Commercial

Property Network represented the union in this expansion.

That may not sound like an exciting tale, but the man behind this

move has quite a story. Leamon Hood, 65, started with the union in

1964 in his home city of Atlanta, Georgia, where he was the son of

a laborer and worked as a janitor in the public schools and a treatment

plant operator.

"Working conditions for everybody and blacks in particular were

horrendous at that time," says Hood. "I was making $48 every

two weeks. People considered to be doing much better were making $40

a week. Job descriptions were written for white people already in

the school system and black people didn’t have any chance to be a

first line supervisor."

Hood began to hear about unions from out-of-state seminary students

who had night jobs. They brought him information about the fundamental

principles of fair and equal treatment for workers.

"I was one of the initiating organizers of school custodians in

Atlantic public schools. We didn’t know professional organizers existed,"

he remembers. "The AFL-CIO gave us cards, put us in touch with

AFSCME and AFSCME allowed us to affiliate with them."

"By the mid to late ’60s I was marching, but by then I was in

New York, marching at Central Park and at the United Nations helping

to organize the union at Willowbrook State School." The union

sent him to training for how to be a staff representative and after

three years he was assigned to Memphis, Tennessee. It was two years

after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, and there was

plenty of work to do in Memphis.

"Because they had a union that had been organized under a social

environment they had little or no idea about what a union was about,"

he says. "Negotiating contracts, handling grievances, and a steward

structure — all these were almost foreign to them."

Hood’s current job is to provide technical support services to councils

in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. The four AFSCME councils

in New Jersey collectively have 30,000 members. The council in Trenton

on South Broad Street is primarily a lobbying group, and it also works

with the state and local government to do contract negotiations, political

and legislative lobbying, and handling grievances. Council No. 73

is in Mercerville and represents Central Jersey workers in daycare,

city and county government, park authorities, and state hospitals.

Other councils are in north and south Jersey, and an independent local

in Newark, not affiliated with any council, represents an additional

12,000 members.

"As an international office, we also represent people in Puerto

Rico and the Panama Canal," says Hood. "In Puerto Rico, we

have 1.3 million members and affiliates of local groups.

His services include ancillary assistance and technical advice, budget

research, and leadership training. He handles political and legislative

matters, local, state, and federal laws, initiatives and issues, and

preparation for contract negotiations. Mostly he works for new local

councils, but if requested he also provides assistance for affiliate

organizations.

Hood never went to college, but now he lectures on university campuses.

He is nearly ready to retire, "but I still find this job interesting."

He notes that it is hard for today’s young people to understand the

difficulties of the 1960s and 1970s. They are impatient. But then

he was just as impatient at that age. "I was ignorant enough to

believe," says Hood, "that we could have made a lot of better

changes if the old folks hadn’t been so slow."

American Federation of State, County and Municipal

Employees, 941 Whitehorse Avenue, Crestwood Professional Center,

Suite 23, Trenton 08610. Leamon Hood, area field services director.

609-585-0554; fax, 609-585-0253. E-mail: lhood@organize.afscme.org.

Home page: www.afscme.org

— Barbara Fox

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Name Changes

Mercer Human Resource Consulting (MMC), 212 Carnegie

Center, Princeton 08543-5323. Mary Aubry, office manager. 609-520-2500;

fax, 609-520-2478. Home page: www.mercer.com

The human resource firm has changed its name from William M. Mercer

Inc. In part the change is due to adding such services as managing

client relationships, attracting and retaining employees, and executive/employee

compensation. It has about 195 people in the Carnegie Center and 4,000

employees in 40 offices worldwide. The company began in 1937 as an

employee benefits department for Marsh & McLennan, an insurance firm.

SEA Consulting Services, 2525 Route 130, Building

E, Cranbury Plaza, Cranbury 08512. Charles Sahyoun, president. 609-409-9790;

fax, 609-409-9788.

Founded in 1997 by five partners, this engineering and design firm

does construction, expansion, or retrofits for industrial, commercial,

and utility clients. Known as Stratus Engineering, it used to be a

division of Stratus Services Group, a staffing firm. It was sold last

spring and has changed its name.

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Advance in Trenton

Advance Realty Group has opened its new 930-car parking garage on

the Trenton waterfront, to be used by state employees who work at

Riverview Executive Park during the day and by those who attend Waterfront

Park at night.

Located near the intersection of Cass Street and Route 29, the garage

represents the first part of Advance’s $100 million development that

will eventually include 400,000 square feet of Class A office and

retail space, another parking garage, a waterfront restaurant, and

200 conventional multifamily housing units. Hillier is doing the redevelopment

planning.

The Advance Group, 414 River View Plaza, Trenton

08611. Dean Lundahl. 609-394-2842; fax, 609-392-7227. Home page:

www.advancerealtygroup.com

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Milestone

J. Ross Bevis, 63, died June 20. For many years owner

of Sprint Print, a copying, printing, and typesetting shop in Ewing,

he was also active in municipal government in West Windsor.


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